Tackling Cybersecurity Challenges in the Age of IoT

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With the rapid adoption of the Internet of Things (IoT), we are moving towards an entirely interconnected world, from smart organizations to smart cities. No one can disagree with the power that IoT presents. However, as we become more and more reliant on web-based services and connected devices, we run the risk of making ourselves more vulnerable than ever, if we fail to recognize the importance of cybersecurity in relation to IoT.

According to the technology research firm Gartner, more than 25% of cyber-attacks will involve IoT by 2020. The cyber-attacks on the FBI and American Department of Homeland Security in early 2016 are harsh reminders that cybersecurity is a very real and pressing concern, regardless of the size of the organization. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t set to slow down as many organizations still have a long way to go to make sure their physical security systems are truly secure.

The deployment of internet connected devices, including IP security cameras, needs to be strategically thought out together with wide-scale collaboration, responsibility, openness, accessibility and most of all trust between all relevant parties – manufacturers, systems integrators, consultants, IT departments and cybersecurity specialists. Without adequate security, these connected devices provide a gateway into personal, corporate, and governmental networks where confidential data can be stolen or vicious malware planted.

While companies are painfully aware of the importance of cybersecurity, in practice they are still not vigilant enough in regularly reviewing and enhancing industry security standards and practices to protect both themselves and their clients in an increasingly complex and threatening environment.

The cybersecurity incidents that keep occurring are most often associated with products designed to provide maximum convenience to the customer, even if it meant loosening security policies (non-complex password setting policy, remote access and support capability). While providing convenience to customers, the security industry needs to implement the right level of security policies that protect our customers’ information. We are finally seeing these changes taking place across the industry as end users are increasingly reluctant to buy products from manufacturers whose products have been compromised through recent vulnerability incidents.

As with any software solution that resides on a network, security systems and edge devices are susceptible to a variety of attacks. Hacking a security system can take any number of forms, including brute-force, packet-sniffing, and man-in-the-middle attacks. In some cases, particularly with man-in-the-middle attacks, hackers are able to “listen in” and alter communication that the participants believe is secure.

When it comes to protecting your cameras from unwanted attacks, there are a number of steps you can take. From changing password defaults and using authentication to proper network setup and configuration to knowing how to identify and thwart attacks, there are true and tested solutions for securing all aspects of your physical security system.
When choosing an IP-based security solution, it is crucial to scrutinize and evaluate the manufacturer’s cybersecurity policies—what are their principles and practices? Do the built-in security mechanisms offered in their solutions use multi-layered encrypted communications, data protection capabilities, and strong user authentication and password protection? How hardened are the physical components inside the device? These measures help protect organizations and their customers against malicious attacks. They also ensure only those with defined privileges will be able to access or use resources, data and applications.

Without proper protection, the size, scope and severity of cyber threats and attacks will likely increase over time. But there are solutions. While the advancement of technology has the potential to increase system vulnerability, it also carries with it the ability to protect. At Hanwha, we are committed to working with our customers to ensure that our innovation delivers the best possible protection now and in the future. After all, security is what we do.

Professionals can get information from manufacturers such as Hanwha, to educate themselves on network hardening, and closing vulnerabilities. Hanwha offers white papers, seminars and training on cybersecurity. Additionally, various forms of media available in the public domain can help professionals gain a stronger understanding on best practices for establishing security policies. Relevant educational facilities and programs are hard to find but they are helpful in understanding the latest industry and cybersecurity trends at various security seminars / conferences.

The very devices that are designed to protect customers’ property and personal information are increasingly used as a means of seizing sensitive personal and corporate information. It is important not to view cybersecurity as just one person’s or one department’s job: it is a collective responsibility that needs to be taken seriously by every single one of us, including manufacturers, systems integrators and end users. As security professionals, we all need to be confident that our systems are secure from both a physical and a cyber perspective. To build this confidence, systems integrators and end users should partner with trusted companies and vendors that have strong cyber security policies, dedicated resources, and a clearly articulated plan for combating security vulnerabilities. Employing these best practices not only can prevent networked video devices and systems from serving as entry points, but also ensures the integrity and continued operation of this critical function – ensuring the ongoing safety and security of people and assets.